Tag Archive | Contentment

Giving Thanks In Storms

For those of us living in the “fly over” states, this last weekend was a rather tense one.  Lots of storms and tornadoes blew through Kansas and Oklahoma and Nebraska and so on.  Our home is in Kansas, home of just about every weather action possible except hurricanes, and we’ve been close to those too a couple or three years ago when one blew in and was so big we had rain from it all the way up here.

A lot of destruction happened over the weekend.  Yes, lots of dollars in damage done, even a handful of lives lost.  We should still give thanks in the midst of the storms, as we are still here.  We are breathing, we have a roof, we have life.

While the storms didn’t really impact us much here in our little corner of the world (they died down significantly before visiting us), we had minor stuff happen around our home.  Our came in large tree limbs snapping off the cherry and mulberry trees.  One limb cracked the trunk of the tree as it splintered off, taking aim at our shed and the roof of our home.  A third tree has cracked and is ready to go into the street at any time the next big gust of wind comes.

Oh, there was a bit of grumbling and complaining at first.  There’s a lot of work for the two of us in order to tend to this particular limb.  It got under shingles in the house’s roof, the weight of it did some damage to our shed, and for a while it was on the electric line, until hubby wiggled it away.  After stepping back and thinking about it, I did find some good in it:  had the shed not been there to take the brunt, the electric line would have been pulled apart and we’d lost power for who knows how long; the shed took the hardest part, and the limbs didn’t fall and completely rip up the shingles on the roof leaving it exposed to rain; the shed took the brunt, or else the big limb could have taken out part of the neighbor’s fence.  The positive side of it, the wood will not go to waste, as our pastor uses wood to heat his home in the winter, and a few truckloads will come of this and the cherry tree, which will provide a few days of heat for free.  God has used a little wind to take care of His own.

When looking at something that at first seems like a hinderance or more than you can handle….give thanks!  The Lord has use for the situation, either to build something in you, or use you to help someone else.

Thankful and linking up with these fine blogs:
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What Having Children With Autism Has Taught Me

Ya know, there’s tons of blogs and billions of blog posts on autism.  I’ve read a few, commented on a couple from time to time, but on my own I’ve mostly stayed away from posting much on autism.  It’s not because there’s nothing to say, it’s just the way we see the kids evidently is much different than many of the bloggers out there.

Our 3 are on the spectrum at varying levels.  One is almost ready to *not* be on the spectrum as he’s outgrown most of the things he does that’s considered on the spectrum.  One is going farther into the spectrum (almost like he’s sucking up all the things that the other one has stopped doing).  One just had an evaluation for the spectrum.

Mr. Kevin has went from mild autism to PDD-NOS, and working his way down.  Believe me I’m happy–he’s displayed less and less of the autism type behaviors as he’s grown older.  He was diagnosed at 2, after putting his head through a plate glass window after headbanging.  He at that time had textbook signs and was an easy diagnosis.   Now, before doing the full Baptist happy dance…he does have a replacement diagnosis that will dominate the rest of his life.  He is also diagnosed with Bi Polar disorder, which his biological dad also has.  But even with the bi polar disorder, he has chance at a normal happy life and independence and so on.

Mr. Michael was diagnosed with Asperger’s at 6 or so.  I think it was 6.  He was in kindergarden anyway.  He’s 10 1/2 now, and with each passing day the signs show up so much more distinctly.  Such rigidness in everything–anything with instructions must be done precisely as written, with no variance.  Sounds are hard on him, he hears things the rest of us can’t.  He gets overstimulated so easily.  And violent–when he doesn’t get his way, he chooses to lash out physically.  He also has severe adhd to contend with, and it’s not just the wiggling in the seat type thing.  Oh no, that’d be a blessing.  His is absolutely so wild and unable to concentrate first thing in the morning that he is not able to comprehend his own name, get dressed, etc.  It’s a daily fight to simply get out of bed, do bathroom time, take medicines (he has been threatened with suspension without it), and get ready for school.  Without medicine, he has paranoia that is unreal, is so unable to focus he is in his own world and may as well talk to the moon and get an answer as to talk to him, so hyper he can run around the block 10 times before I get out the door (or seems to anyway), so super sensitive to sounds that he hears something across town and asks us what it is (as if we heard it too).  And he flaps enough that if combined with the hyperness, he will someday take flight.  Literally.  But with all that, he has the extreme brilliance–he is super super smart, near genius IQ (was 110 at 6 yrs old, and due for another test),  can take things apart (especially electronics) and put them together (in varying ways).  He has programmed a tv to get radio reception (it didn’t have a radio) and freaked out his grandma and grandpa (they weren’t so pleased).  He when he was younger was able to put together a tv/dvd/vcr/cable (all different boxes, dvd and vcr was not combined) and make them all work.  He is totally obsessed with computers and computer games and video games and anything electronic.  And now Star Wars and light sabers.   He has an imagination to equal George Lucas’s.

Miss Jess, she’s a quiet one.  She has a submissive spirit, but a wild adhd like her brother as well.  She is a tomboy, loves playing with hotwheels and barbies, soccer and tea parties.  She was a screamer as a little girl, at 2 to 4, she screamed at the top of her lungs when things didn’t go her way.  She didn’t want to go to bed, she’d scream.  All night.  She didn’t want to take a bath, same thing (and she still got her bath).  She didn’t want to do anything at all, the high pitch screaming came out.  Her verbal skills didn’t start til near 5, and the screaming steadily went down.  She also didn’t potty train til 5, when she’d simply choose to pee or poop in her pants, would tell us she knew she had to go and then would play or watch tv instead.  It took making her wash out her own panties that she got the hint really fast, and she decided it wasn’t so fun to sit in pee and poop anymore.  She is very slow, not mentally, but physically.  She will goof off, daydream, anything but the task given to her.  Homework from school can and usually does take allllll evening…for 6 to 10 simple math problems.  A simple meal takes an hour and a half.  Dressing about the same amount of time if we let her.  I’ve seen a 2 legged turtle go faster.  She is smart when she chooses to show it, but usually chooses not to.  She has so much potential, if she’d only physically move.

I’ve learned that they are not a diagnosis.  They are kids.  Slap whatever label on them, they are still them.  They will test limits.  They will act out.  They will drive us nuts.  But they are not their diagnosis.

With this family, we choose to not let their diagnosis rule them.  Many folks would let them slide on things because of the autism stuff.  Umm no.  They are able to learn correct behavior at home, in public, in church, in school, in stores.  The kids may not like having to practice it, but to be honest, with the work they’ve done to learn correct behavior in public, many times they are much more behaved than ‘normal’ kids.  I can sit them in a pew at church, and you won’t hear them.  They may wiggle, but you won’t see them acting out (or if you do, you’ll also see consequences and a learning experience for them).  I can take them to a store, and you won’t see them throwing big fits wanting the latest toys.  Oh, they’ll bug for things, step out in front of folks as they hang on to the cart, fuss with each other as siblings do, etc, but you won’t see the fits that many ‘normal’ kids do demanding the latest, most expensive toy.  Why?  Training.  I tell them no, I teach them that there’s reward for good behavior, and a punishment when they behave badly in public, and it’s up to them to choose.

Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen overnight.  And it wasn’t easy.  It has taken years of training, years of episodes of one, two, or all three acting out so badly I had moments of where I wasn’t sure I wanted to be associated with them.  I’ve carried them out many times kicking and screaming.  I’ve been hit, kicked, scratched to bleeding, etc over not getting what they want.  And each time, I’ve been consistent.  Regardless of what they’ve been labelled with, they can and do learn.  And they will model what they see and are taught.  If you teach them that they can’t learn because of a diagnosis, they will run wild and nothing will get through.  If you teach them that they can learn, it’s expected of them, there’s consequences for good and bad actions (good consequences and bad consequences), and that they can control how they do, the DO learn!

When Mr. Kevin was 2, I was told by a behavioral therapist who was doing in home work, to never tell him (Kevin) no.  Over my dead body would I follow that!!  Granted it cost me a lot of sanity and skin and a few pints of blood (that boy could scratch like a pro), but he learned quickly what no was, and that mom meant it.  Mr. Michael was taught for a while (not by me, but by his doctor, dad, therapist, school, etc) that medications were the fix and if he acted out it was the medicine’s fault.  He’s had a hard lesson, as I’ve had to teach him the opposite, and his dad has followed suit.  He has learned that regardless of his medicine, he is able to control his actions.  And he is held responsible.  Mr. Kevin has had to learn that as well as he just started blaming a medicine for his acting out, and his psychiatrist and I both told him that he is responsible for his actions–we both told him at the same time in the psychiatrist’s office after he’d been acting out horribly in public, and had some nasty consequences).

The point is, the diagnosis does not determine their lives.  They can choose right and wrong, and learn.

I’ve learned to lean on God.  Oh, I’ve seen folks who’ve said “I took care of me, God didn’t do it”…but they’re wrong.  God gives us what we can handle, nothing more.  He knows what it will take to make us let go and hold on to Him.  God knows that we will have to lean on Him in order to raise the three kids.  We can’t do it alone.  We have to wrap them in prayer, give them over to Him in order for Him to work His will in them.  I’ve learned to heavily lean on Proverbs 3:5-6 and Proverbs 15:1.  Without Him, I couldn’t be the mom the kids need.

Raising children with autism spectrum disorders isn’t all that different from raising “normal” kids.  There’s ups and downs.  There’s learning experiences that you live through and grow with.  There’s family that will never understand.  There’s friends who stick beside you, some that go away.  But God is always there, He understands.  He created each child, knew them in the womb, and knows each hair on their heads.  He gave each child to us for a reason, and some days I really believe it is to make us lean on Him more.  Sure, it’d be easy to say that “I did it”, but it’d be a lie.

He did it.  It’s all because of Him.

Home Sweet Home

It’s late at night and the house is quiet.  Not a creature is stirring, except for the little Blue Russian kitty.  The wind is blowing hard outside, up to 45 mph gusts that shake and rattle the house.

I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I had opportunity to spend some time this weekend endulging in some Waltons dvds, and noticed the ongoing theme of how mom (Olivia) and Grandma were home bodies and tended the home and the needs of the family.  They made home cooked meals, washed on a washboard (til John Boy worked his hiney off and bought mom a second hand wringer washer), made their dairy products with milk from their own cows, ironed clothes, made clothing on a treadle sewing machine and by hand, etc.  The 2 women stayed busy all day tending their home and family.  No going and gossiping with the local ladies, no chatting on a phone (or computer) all day long.

Ok, I know that the Waltons is a fictional series.  But there’s somethings that can be gleaned from even the fictional lives played out there.  We’re in a society that tells us women we have to go out and work 80 hours a week at a job we don’t like for a boss we hate and then come home and work on maybe throwing a take out meal together and sleeping.  We’re told to hold off on families, to limit the number of children we should have in order to keep climbing “the ladder”, and if we get pregnant, to abort that interfering child.  We’re told that we’re liberated, that we should wait until later to marry, but go ahead and test drive some men from our teen years on up til marriage.  Our society even tells us to go ahead and test drive a woman or two as well.  We’re told we need to be a size 6 or smaller, we just have to have all the latest fashions on the catwalk, and if we don’t look like an anorexic runway model, we’re too fat for any man out there.

What happened to the days of old?

I hate to say it, but not too awfully long ago, I was too of the mindset of this world.  I was one to hold down a full time job and a part time one as well to earn as much money as I could.  I didn’t NEED it, nor did I have dependents that needed me to earn.  I just WANTED it.  I also fell into the false theory of test driving the car before buying, only on a dating scale.  I bought into the feminist lie that you must go out with and even sleep with many in order to find that elusive “one”.  I bought hook, line, and sinker, every single lie of the world, that things make you happy, children are a burden, and work work work work and build the bank accounts first and foremost and make that an idol.

NO more!

Today, I am blessed.  I am able to stay at home, to cook home made, from scratch meals for my family.  They may not all like what’s fixed, but there’s hot food on the table.  I am blessed to have constant dirty dishes, as they show that I have food to eat and family to sit around my table and enjoy a meal.

I am blessed to be able to stay home.  I do not have the desire or drive to work multiple jobs and long drawn out hours away from home.  I can go days without leaving home if need be.  There’s plenty of work to be done around the house, it is in itself a full time job.  Sure the monitary pay is minimal to none, but the rewards are more than money can buy.

I am blessed to have the family around me.  Some days they drive me insane, and the thought of spending a nice relaxing vacation at the local psych unit has crossed my mind, but they are my family nonetheless.  Had I stuck with the mindset I had, I would not have them.

I am blessed to have a husband who doesn’t care that I am not a size 6 or below and am absolutely not anorexic.  I do not have to be a stick thin model for him.  I can have curves and padding, an imperfect non-airbrushed body that real women have.  He doesn’t expect me to be the epitome of fashion as well.  I don’t have to have high end clothing and 100 pairs of shoes to have what I need.  A simple dress and pair of shoes suffices.

We really need to look back behind us, to the women who came before us.  We’d do good to learn from the days gone by, from the Depression era when women had to stretch everything to make ends meet.  We need to learn to do more on our own, from cooking to sewing, to homemaking and being there for our families instead of out of our homes.  The lies of the feminist movement have taken so much from us, but we women don’t have to believe the lies.

I fear I’ve rattled on….  It’s late into the night and morning comes so soon…  You all have a blessed night and good morning to come!

 

 

This Happy Abnormal Life

Funny, most folks want the perfect family, with the 2.5 kids (side note: how does one have 2.5 kids…is mom perpetually pregnant with that last one?), suburban home in a middle class cul-de-sac neighborhood, cush 9-5 job, and those little sweaters that tie around the shoulders or waist.

Not this chica!

A life like that would be a nightmare for us!

With 2.5 children, we’d have Mr. Michael and Mr. Kevin, but no Miss Jess.  The suburban home in the cul-de-sac would more than likely not be “home” without the hunting dog, john boat, storage shed full of fishing gear, the trapping equipment showing, and the clothes line taking up most of the back yard.  Many neighborhoods wouldn’t allow that.  Or the old red S-10 that’s been banged up and totalled out 2x (one by a drunk driver in front of our house in the middle of the night while we slept–it was very interesting when the police came at 2am to tell us about it and show us what happened) and smelling like animals expired in the truck bed under the topper.  Those would be the trapping lures.

No, life wouldn’t be right if it weren’t “abnormal”.

If we had a “normal” life, we wouldn’t have a 20 pound gray tabby girl named Heifer, who answers to “Moo”.  And, we wouldn’t have Miss Jess writing in her school work that her favorite pet is Heifer, with the teacher putting tons of question marks behind it. 🙂  Guess the school thinks we have a cow in the backyard or something.  We also wouldn’t have a rescued little Blue Russian kitten who has grown like a patch of weeds, who has an official name of “Shadow”, but will only answer to “Little Fart”.  Or “You Stupid Cat” (used only when she decides to purr and the rip roar through the house and climb the ceiling via curtains or blinds or us.)  Or, we wouldn’t have an indoor/outdoor kitty named Stripey, aka “the Flop” and “the Fuzzinator”.  She’s a beautifully loving Ragamuffin blend, extremely friendly and totally attached to the family, who was abandoned by the previous tenants to this house…similar to Shadow’s story (she was abandoned by neighbors a couple houses down when they moved away, and they left her INSIDE the house, and the home’s owners found her 3 days later and she shot outside and to our back yard…she’s been here ever since and is asleep on top of the couch).  Stripey is “the Flop” for her tendency to just flop over and demand attention anytime anywhere.  She is also our law enforcer in the yard and house…the Terminator at the kitty level.

Hubby has even concocted whole life stories for them.  He has Heifer as the gambling addict who’s also addicted to menthol lotion (think green Goldbond).  She’s been to Lotion’s Anonymous and feel off the wagon too many times.  Lately she’s been more diligent in her LA and not licked any Goldbond.  Stripey is her bookee, who is owed tons of money, and keeps a quarter and a knife on the porch.  (Not sure why the quarter’s out there, but the knife is a paring knife that seems to come in handy a lot outside).  From what hubby says, Stripey has been hired as the “hit cat” by Heifer’s gambling buddies, and the quarter is a down payment, and for the rest she’s come in and infiltrated the family and gained access to the most important thing in Heifer’s life–the food bowl.  Shadow has come to us for training for her upcoming role as the Russian 2 in another version of the Cats and Dogs movie.  She’s not allowed to have all the weapons yet tho, so she just uses her claws.  Heifer tries to get her to sit down to a hand of cards, Stripey teaches her the art of attack, and Shadow has perfected the cute look.

Would a normal house have that? 🙂

No…life here wouldn’t be right if it was “normal”.

Normal families probably don’t have children with pretend friends by the millions.  For us, they are the Uggs.  They have their own planet, with Ugg-mobiles, and pack the house daily.  We never see them but Mr. Michael has them as friends.  Miss Jess, not to be beaten by her older brother, has Ugg-ettes.

Ah…normalcy…not in this house!!!!

Content In My Own Skin

I was thinking this morning (yes, even before the coffee pot heated up!) about contentedness.  Not just in the things that I have, but in the body I’m in, the house that we call “home” for now, and the life I live.  How do I look at these things?  Do I want for more (notice I said want, not need)?  Do I want to significantly change what I have to be like everyone else?

Let me tell you–I’m not above an occasional pity party.  You know the kind–why me?  Why here?  Why can’t I have nice things without the kids/hubby/cats tearing them up/breaking them/destroying them?  Why can’t my body lose this weight and keep it off?  Why can’t we move to a house that isn’t old and drafty and doesn’t even remotely resemble the ones in Better Homes and Gardens?  Why can’t my kids be like normal kids?  Face it–you’ve had a thought similar to those at some point in time in your life too–just go ahead and admit it and then ask the Lord to forgive it and let’s go on.

I’ve had my share of those pity parties.  As things get a little (or a lot) tighter financially, as the children grow older and have more problems related to autism and adhd, as my own body grows older and has more aches and pains and problems (you’d think I’m old by how I talk–I’m only 34), I tend to slip up and throw a pity party for 1.  I have had times of not being content in my skin.

This is a sin.

Paul speaks about contentedness in Phillipians 4:11

  Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

This comes from the man who started out as a Pharisee, blinded on the Damascus Road, found Salvation in Jesus Christ, and joined the very people he’d been persecuting.  He found contentment in being imprisoned for Christ, being nearly killed many times and suffering for Him.  He didn’t complain about not having a pretty house, perfect children, a perfect body, food to eat.  He counted all his inadequacies as a way to glorify God and serve Him more!

In I Timothy 6:8, Paul writes:  And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Convicting, isn’t it?  I know it sure is for me!

This morning, I want to lean the most on Hebrews 13:5, which says:

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

That promise of Jesus being with us no matter what…regardless of what we have, whether the things we have/are/want measure up to the world around us…that means more than having the perfect house, perfectly well behaved children, a size 6 body, or whatever else the world deems as “perfection”. 

We as believers have Jesus…THE only Perfection we need. 

We as believers don’t need to play “keeping up with the Jones” with the world around us, or even other believers.  If Jesus wanted us to be like the Jones family, He’d have made us all Jones (no offense to anyone reading this who has Jones for their name). 

He may have put us in a not so fancy house in a lower income neighborhood knowing that the rent and utilities would fit better into a tight budget than that fancier house across town.  He could well have foreseen a dramatic loss in income, an illness, something to make the lesser cost of the home a necessity at some point. 

He may have given us the children we have with the special needs they have knowing we’d have to lean on Him more than if we’d had life without those special needs.  He knew to give us the strengths and experiences ahead of time to handle those individual needs that many normal families find strange….

He may have given us the aches and pains for us to appreciate the pain free days, to appreciate the finer things, like breathing and sitting upright without assistance.  Like having extra padding to be able to handle the famine in the feast and famine times in our families.  I found that being fatter, when we go through the lean times (like in November when our income was pretty small and nothing to buy groceries with), I can go down to one meal or just a snack and give what I would normally allow myself to the family…I can keep going on my stored energy bank…keep doing the washboard, keep doing the scrubbing, the outside work, without having to fill up with more, and continue to feed my family.  Now I wouldn’t mind dropping off some of the storehouse I’ve got built. 🙂

He has given us a life He wants us to live.  It’s up to us to find contentment in it.